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Dangerous Driving

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lonedad | 16:17 Wed 29th Apr 2009 | Criminal
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I just want peoples opinion on this. I am to face a jury next week on the charge of dangerous driving. In 2007, I was involved in a RTA. I was driving an 18 tonne truck on a motorway where I was approaching a queue of traffic (some distance away, probably over 150 yards). I realised it was a queue for the next junction so decided to change lanes. I was sitting on cruise control at 56mph (top speed and speed limited) I looked in my drivers side mirror to check for traffic. . I then looked over to my blind spot, and pressed my brake to disengage the cruise control and then saw a car so I cancelled my intention to move over and pressed the brake again to slow the truck down. I noticed that my truck was not slowing at all and I pressed the brake again to no avail. I panicked thinking that my brakes had gone. The vehicle at the back of the queue (a white van) was getting nearer and nearer. I quickly checked the hard shoulder to see that it was clear. I then swerved my vehicle towards it. Unfortunatly, by this time, a car had replaced the van at the back of the queue (the van was in front of the car so obviously had jumped in front of me). I hit the car en route to the hard shoulder and my truck came to a stop 100 yards from the impact site. After checks on the truck, it was discovered that there were no faults. It dawned on me that I must have pressed the accelerator instead of the brake. 2 people were seriously hurt in the accident and, after a year, I was charged with Dangerous Driving. My solicitor advised me to plead not guilty but now Im not so sure. Ive been reading alot of reports on the internet that people are being done for this but others are having the lesser charge of Undue Care for the manner of driving that I believe is far worse than what I did. Is this dangerous driving? I believed that Dangerous Driving was an intentional act like reading a map, speeding, racing and being avoidably distracted as these are calculated risks that drivers take.

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I hope your solicitor has told you that a barrister will have to be instructed to put your case before the Crown Court as he or she has no right of audience there.

Costs in the Crown Court are considerably more than in the Magistrates' Court. I don�t know if you have been granted Legal Aid (it is unlikely) but if you are convicted you will be liable for your own costs as well as a contribution towards those of the prosecution (who will also have to instruct a barrister).

In my view, your solicitor has done you no favours by this prejudicial attitude. Quite frankly, there is nothing in it for you. If he was correct in his assertion that magistrates usually side with the police (and, by implication, presumably juries do not) then conviction rates in the lower court would be higher than in the Crown Court, and they are not. In fact the reverse is true. Magistrates have to give reasons in open court for their verdicts (who and what they believed or disbelieved) whilst juries do not.

I have not come across many (in fact any) solicitors who would routinely advise their clients to opt for a Crown Court trial when they have been given the choice by magistrates. Quite the reverse, in fact. They often do all they can to persuade the Bench to retain jurisdiction. The only people who opt for Crown Court trial routinely are habitual offenders, usually guilty, who feel the extra delay inherent in the Crown Court process will make it less likely that all the witnesses involved will still be willing to give evidence against them.
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I told him that I was nervous about going to Crown Court and he gave me his side of things. He was very persusive and I decided to do it as obviously i took his advice as Ive never been in this position before. I have often regretted the decision because I know it would be over by now. Even the CPS solicitor who said to the magistrate that they were willing to have this heard there said that they wanted a level 5 fine and community service if found guilty. Im very upset at this. Is there no chance that I can reverse this decision?
I am on legal aid as I am unemployed (long story all attatched to this event, its not because im a leeching so and so).
I do not believe you can get your choice of venue reversed. You could, of course, ask your solicitor!
Lonedad

Firstly I have to take issue with Drisgirl. Barristers do not take cases to court because the "have a point to prove". Nor do they take the view that the client is "nothing to them". Every barrister should (and at least the ones I have had the priviledge to work alongside) put their client's case and interests first. Bear in mind that the barrister is often not instructed until the few days before trial - and then he will look at the evidence against his client and the evidence for his client and form a view on that evidence. He will always act in the best interests of the client. I do not know of any barrister who will put a client's freedom at risk to further his own interests. And frankly, in the Crown Court, there is absolutely nothing for a barrister to gain. It is only when we are looking at CA/HL that "name making" cases come about. In any event, it pays to crack a trial at PCMH level rather than fight a CC trial which only lasts a few days. Thus this logic is flawed in the extreme.

You have given your side of things, but I am not sure of the evidence on which the prosecution rely. Of course, it is impossible for you to do so on an internet forum. From what YOU have said, this sounds like a case of careless rather than dangerous. Sounds to me as if the CPS are confusing the consequences of your momentary inattention with the actual duration of the inattention.

As far as your solicitor recommending CC trial - again, this is impossible to comment on since only your solicitor has the full facts and all the evidence. His advice will be based on that rather than your (you have to admit) subjective view of them.

Even if you are found guilty, I know that what is worrying you is a prison sentence (I have seen previous posts), I rather suspect that this is unlikely to be the case in this scenario. Although with respect it is impossible to say without reading the full Prosecution
Cont'd


Please try not to worry. Your solicitors and instructed counsel will be on top of the papers. You will have to make sure that they are both fully instructed and to some extent have some degree of trust in the professionals they are.

Please let us know the outcome.
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Thanks barmaid. It is all very worrying. My barrister has said we have a good case and I know my solicitor was angry to the extreme after the courts mess up, confusing me with another that was being tried for dangerous driving.
Ill let you know how I get on, I just wish it was this time next week to be honest.
Just because this is, what I believe, to be undue care it doesnt mean I dont take what I did seriously nor do I think it was trivial. I have a problem with the charge, not with what I did.
lonedad. Wishing you all the best for next week
lonedad - I do hope everything goes well for you next week. good luck and my best wishes.
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Thank you both. I wish you were on the jury. I just hope I have such understanding people on my jury as are on here
Please do let us know the outcome of your case.
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Probably going to have a few rightous people have a party at the outcome of this but, on the advice of my barrister, we asked for a goodyear indication from the judge last week. He came back and said he would give a maximum sentance of custodial which would be suspended. The barrister suggested that if I was found guilty by the jury then I would go to prison and that it would be advisble to plead guilty to avoid that. Obviously a prison sentnece was my concern due to my daughter so I decided to take my barristers advice.
I was sentenced today and got a little less than what the judge indicated last week. Not sure how I feel at the moment but I do feel like Ive been shafted by the establishment.
I think you got a good result lonedad -your primary concern was a custodial sentence.I have been checking to see how you got on.
The waiting and build up to a trial is the worst bit -the not knowing your fate.
Just if you come back on as a matter of interest did you receive a ban?
Anyway im just glad its over for you -try to put it firmly in the past.

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